March 23, 2020
When Christians used the word “gospel” in the first century AD, it always referred to this message about Jesus; it did not refer to the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John — books that tell the story about Jesus. At that time, Christians spoke of the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, or the others. Only in the second century and beyond did Christians start talking about these books themselves as Gospels — Matthew’s Gospel (or the Gospel of Matthew), Mark’s Gospel, and so on. In the first century, “gospel” referred to the message, not the book that conveyed it.
By: Sherri Gragg
Six days before Easter morning, I found myself lying at the bottom of a flight of stairs, pondering the efficiency of gravity.
One minute, I was making my way down the narrow staircase of a 200-year-old log cabin on a friend’s farm. The next, I was sprawled across the hardwood floors, clutching my knee in agony. As two of my teens helped me stand, everything in me was already raging.
Raging against gravity. Raging against socks on stairs. Raging against my aging body.
Raging against all the things I wouldn’t be able to do with an injured knee. Raging against looming doctors’ appointments and hours spent in physical therapy.
While I was at it, even though it was completely irrelevant, I raged against menopause too. Because if anything deserves rage, it is menopause.
For the next 24 hours, I hobbled around the farm using a hiking stick for a cane as I fed the goats and stole eggs from the chickens. I watched from a distance as my three teens hiked the hill I had always wanted to tackle. I dangerously teetered over the fire pit, determined we would make s’mores one more time before we headed home and to the orthopedist. I gritted my teeth and drove my Jeep around the farm to prove I could still work the clutch with my bum knee.
It was one long wrestling match with my never-ending impulse to control the uncontrollable.
“Things had been going so well…” I repeatedly mumbled under my breath.
Learning to Let Go of the Reins
And, for the first time in a long time, they were. My two oldest kids were finding success in college. The three at home were on track too. My work was going great. I had all of the writing I could handle.
Life felt stable, good, controllable. I didn’t want to let go of the reins. And it wasn’t just about my injured knee.
One week earlier, I received a panicked phone call from the 15-year-old boy I had been mentoring for years. He was in state custody, and his path to return home had fallen apart. He wanted to know if my husband and I would consider becoming his guardians.
Through the frustrating limitations of my injury, God helped me confront my inner conflict as I considered life with six children instead of five, with four kids between the ages of 14 and 17 instead of three.
I didn’t have the luxury of naïveté. As a mom of five kids between the ages of fourteen and twenty-three, I knew what it meant to parent teens. Did I have it in me to hold another teenager accountable? To teach another kid how to drive? Honestly, I wasn’t sure.
As an adoptive mom, I also understood that any time a child joins a family through adoption or foster care, a devastating loss has preceded the joy of that homecoming. I was intimately, painfully acquainted with the trauma. The grief. The long, tear-stained road to recovery and trust.
Most of all, I knew there are never any guarantees in parenting.
And frankly, at this point in my life, I felt I was long overdue a few guarantees.
He Walks Beside Us Every Step
On my friend’s farm, as I painfully limped around the goat pen under the delusion that I could still catch a baby goat, I felt God tugging at my heart. He reminded me that when we walk with Jesus, life is a series of “little deaths.” He calls us to surrender our compulsion for control and our cravings for safety and comfort. He lovingly calls us to carry the promise of Easter’s resurrection into the mundane and the monumental of Monday morning.
He asks us to trust that no matter how terrifying the future looms, He walks beside us every step of the way.
This excerpt is from Jesus Calling April 1, Easter, 2018
“I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life…Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all. Talk with Me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings. Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me.” – Jesus Calling
Sherri Gragg is a recovering control addict and a teen-parenting survivor. She is also an internationally published writer and the author of several books including, Arms Open Wide: A Call to Linger in the Savior’s Presence.